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Matthew Thompson is Director of Physics at TAE Technologies, Inc. a diversified company working on fusion, related power handling and particle accelerator technologies, and new medical devices for cancer treatment. He leads the 50 scientists and technical personnel of TAE’s Physics Division in their work on experimental operations, pulsed power systems, high-power neutral beams, plasma diagnostics, data acquisition, analysis, and data science. Dr. Thompson transitioned to private industry eleven years ago with his first Senior Scientist position at Tri Alpha Energy working on energy conversion and magnetic sensor technologies. Prior to becoming an industrial physicist, he worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on picosecond resolution electron diffraction, and at both SLAC and Fermilab on dielectric and plasma wakefield accelerators. Outside the lab, Dr. Thompson is heavily involved in the mentorship of young scientists, leadership activities of the American Physical Society, and science advocacy. He holds a bachelor’s degree with honors in physics from Stanford University, and both a MS and PhD in physics from the University of California, Los Angeles, where his graduate work focused on experimental plasma physics.
My single focus in running for Vice Chair is to make participation in FIAP as valuable as possible to our present and future members. The APS’s own statistics clearly show that well over 50% of the young men and women trained in physics ultimately find careers in private industry, yet FIAP members are only about 13% of the total APS membership. I believe we can do better by providing and communicating a compelling value proposition to physicists who have exited the academic and government laboratory communities. In addition to maintaining strong and useful programs at our meetings and working to recruit new and diverse members, I feel some of the best areas to work on in the future are: encouraging industrial internships, fostering a culture of mentorship, supporting mid- and late-career networking and development, and advocating at the federal level for reforms in areas such as immigration policy, intellectual property rights, and access to national user facilities.
I have a history of acting in the service of industrial physicists. At the 2014 National Issues in Industrial Physics workshop, I proposed the idea of an online mentorship matching site for industrial physics and later helped Steven Lambert, the APS Industrial Fellow, implement the concept in the form of the IMPact program (https://impact.aps.org/). In the first year of operation, IMPact attracted over 450 participants and made 90 mentoring relationship matches. This is exactly the sort of low-cost, high-payoff program I will seek to further as Vice Chair. My formal APS leadership experience includes a term as member-at-large on the Far West Section executive committee and current service on the Committee on Careers & Professional Development. Finally, my professional activities outside the APS demonstrate commitment to a vibrant and successful industrial physics community. I have personally mentored over fifteen students on professional issues, made several career-oriented speaking appearances, and maintain a blog on career skills for industrial physicists (www.prosperousphysicist.com). I hope that I can continue to serve you as a chair line officer of FIAP. Thank you for your time and attention.